Reflecting on 60 years in Malaysia: A Call for Change and Progress in Sabah and Sarawak

By Former Petagas Assemblyman Datuk James Ligunjang JP


KOTA KINABALU: Reflecting on the past 60 years since Sabah and Sarawak’s inclusion into the Federation of Malaysia, it is a moment of introspection. We must contemplate the trials and tribulations that these states have endured – 60 years of agony, neglect, and plunder.

We cannot ignore the harsh reality that these once-rich states have now become the poorest within Malaysia. Basic infrastructure, such as roads, educational facilities, and healthcare, are in dire need of improvement. We cannot help but feel envious as we witness the progress made by our neighboring nation, Singapore, which boldly decided to exit Malaysia in 1965.

Brunei, which firmly stood its ground and refused to join Malaysia in 1963, has emerged as one of the wealthiest economies in the world today.

It is not without reason that we feel disillusioned and frustrated. Sabah and Sarawak have experienced neglect and abandonment for far too long. We witness the widening gap between the privileged and the underprivileged among our states.

While we reflect on the past, we must also focus on the present and the promise of the future.

It is now imperative for the federal and state governments to prioritize the implementation of the promises agreed upon in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and invest in much-needed infrastructure, educational facilities, and healthcare systems within Sabah and Sarawak.

This will help these states reach a level of parity with Malaya, as advocated by Tunku Abdul Rahman to convince Sabah and Sarawak to join the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

We must acknowledge that the prosperity of our nation depends on the well-being of each and every state and its citizens.

This is not a plea for handouts or sympathy. Rather, it is a call for action, a demand for accountability from our leaders. We must not only voice our dissent but also put an end to the condescending habit of compromising on our state rights as written in the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Together, we have the power to effect change and create a fair and inclusive Malaysia that benefits all our states and citizens.

We must cast aside the shackles of the past and usher in an era of determination, progress, unity, and prosperity for Sabah and Sarawak.

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